What is a Social Network, Anyway?

It’s a very busy Friday here at SugarCRM HQ, as usual. End of quarter and things are buzzing…good to see…

But what grabbed me enough to take time out from end of quarter stuff  was something I saw on my good friend Paul Greenberg’s blog about some IDC data on social networks, mainly this factoid:

IDC research finds that 14% of enterprises have a social network deployed already, with 27% more doing it this year – adding up to, ta da, 41% by year end.

This surprised me in some senses, because frankly, I didn’t think that many companies knew what web 2.0 or social networking tools etc. really were.

But then I thought about it, and am actually surprised that this number isn’t technically a lot higher.

Think about it, what is a social network in the technological sense?  It is basically a repository of personal data, relationship capital, and a source for mapping connections. A lot of that is actually available – maybe not on the surface – in something like Outlook/Exchange Server or inside more full service CRM systems.

I think labeling only standalone systems as social networks is a misnomer – but we are still on the front end of a lot of these concepts, and the best practices and full understanding of extracting social networking capital in the enterprise are still nascent.